Popular Heartburn Medications May Increase Risk of COVID-19 in Users

A report published last week by the American Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that people taking a class of heartburn drugs known as proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may face an increased risk of acquiring COVID-19. The PPI class of drugs includes Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix and others, which are sold in prescription and/or over-the-counter form to heartburn and acid reflux sufferers across the United States. Contact an experienced drug injury attorney today if you or a loved one has suffered side effects of one of these popular heartburn medications. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, which you can pursue by filing a product liability lawsuit against the drug manufacturer.

PPIs Widely Used in the United States

Proton pump inhibitors are a class of drugs used to treat heartburn and other acid-related conditions, including peptic ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or acid reflux. The drugs work by blocking an enzyme called gastric hydrogen potassium ATPase (H+/K+ ATPase), which reduces the amount of acid produced by the glands that line the stomach. PPIs are some of the best-selling drugs in the United States, used by millions of Americans to relieve symptoms of heartburn and acid reflux. Unfortunately, the drugs have been linked to a number of serious side effects in users, including kidney damage, dementia, heart attack, bone fractures, cardiovascular disease and bone density loss, among others.

Previous research has also found that side effects of Nexium, Prilosec and other blockbuster heartburn drugs may increase the risk of certain types of infections in users. A study published in January 2017 found that acid-suppression medications like PPIs and histamine-2 receptor antagonists were associated with an increased risk of C. difficile and Campylobacter positive gastroenteritis. A November 2014 report showed that long-term users of Nexium and similar heartburn medications demonstrated a reduced ability to fight off C. difficile infections. Way back in 2012, the FDA warned in a drug safety communication that popular heartburn drugs like Nexium and Prilosec can increase the risk of serious bacterial infections in users.

Risk of Coronavirus Higher Among PPI Users

This new American Journal of Gastroenterology report suggests that the increased risk of infections tied to PPIs may include the novel coronavirus, which has impacted more than three million people in the United States, causing more than 130,000 deaths. To measure the potential increased risk of infections from PPIs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California conducted a population-based survey online from May 3, 2020 to June 24, 2020, involving 53,130 participants. The survey participants were asked about their use of heartburn drugs like Prilosec and Nexium and whether they have tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the results of the survey, 3,386 participants tested positive for the COVID-19 infection and the researchers found that using a PPI drug up to once a day more than doubled the risk of acquiring COVID-19. Even more alarming, those survey participants who took a PPI drug twice a day were more than three and a half times more likely to test positive for the novel coronavirus. “To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the relationship between PPIs and COVID-19 among a population-based sample of Americans,” the researchers wrote. “Our finding that PPI use is associated with increased odds for acquiring SARS-CoV-2, which invades and replicates within enterocytes, is consistent with prior literature showing that PPIs also increase the risk for other enteric infections.”

Contact a Drug Injury Attorney for Legal Help

Nexium, Prilosec and others belonging to the PPI class of heartburn medications are widely viewed as safe. However, the makers of these drugs currently face more than 15,000 lawsuits brought by former users who allege that they developed chronic kidney disease and other serious complications that could have been avoided had the drug companies provided adequate warnings about possible side effects to consumers and the medical community. If you or someone you know tested positive for COVID-19 while taking Nexium, Prilosec or another blockbuster heartburn drug, or if you have suffered a major side effect like kidney damage or bone fractures allegedly caused by a proton pump inhibitor, do not hesitate to contact an experienced drug injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

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